Joshua Keel

A Letter to my Friends in This Time of Trouble

March 22, 2020

Hi friends,

It’s amazing how the last two weeks have taken us from concern to dread to acceptance of a new and dramatically altered reality. The things that seemed important earlier this year—for me, a trip to Utah, looking for a new car, spending time with friends—have been canceled or postponed indefinitely.

The emotional weight of all the suffering COVID-19 has caused—all the lost jobs, failing businesses, panic, anxiety and depression—didn’t really hit me until yesterday. I was incredibly emotionally volatile. Throughout the day, I found myself sometimes tearing up, even bawling, for no apparent reason, other than the fact that the world is in chaos and I’m caught up in it.

It hurt to read that my favorite movie theater, Alamo Drafthouse, is closed, and to know that we don’t know when life will return to normal, and if they’ll be financially afloat when it does. To hear that hundreds of people died in Italy in the last 24 hours makes me feel ill. My heart breaks that this is happening to all of us.

It’s true I’ve been no friend of President Trump, but I have never felt more painfully the dearth of leadership in the White House than this moment. I’ve never been more livid than to hear our President deny the severity of this pandemic, apparently ignoring the advice of experts, and lying to the American public. But reality does not cotton to bullshit, and has forced his tune to change.

I am now convinced our government is taking this threat seriously, and will do what they can to make the best of a terrible situation that will ultimately cost many lives, and sap our economic prosperity.

As for my wife and I, we are hunkered down at home, venturing out only to buy groceries, and that as little as possible. The cabin fever is strong, not just because we’re forced to stay home, but also because the future is so uncertain.

It feels ridiculous to plan or think much beyond the next few weeks at the moment. My forward-looking energy has evaporated, and I am left only with thoughts of survival, and of those I love. I, along with so many others right now, just want to understand this situation and how to get out of it.

I suppose I always knew something like this could happen, but I never thought about the reality of what it would mean for my friends, neighbors and family. For now, my job seems secure, but I’m hearing about so many others who are suddenly unemployed as a result of the rapid economic downturn caused by this virus.

My best friend may lose his business, one that has only just started becoming profitable, and that he has poured countless hours of hard work into. I worry about my immunocompromised friends and family, and my older relatives, who are particularly vulnerable.

These are times of great uncertainty, and a good deal of fear. This is a moment for the entirety of this planet, who are all affected, to stand in solidarity. Let’s take care of ourselves, and each other. I’m hopeful that although the worst is probably ahead of us, we may swiftly see our way clear to beating this virus and recovering our lives.

Stay home, friends. Make sure your people are OK. Take care of your mental and spiritual needs as well as your physical ones. Be gentle and understanding of the fear that so many are experiencing right now. Have compassion for yourself and your own troubled thoughts. Take care of the ones you love. Together, we will win this fight.

With love,